For the first time since 2012, the RBC Canadian Open will be played at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. For the first time since 1989, this event will be played in June. Usually sandwiched between a major and a WGC event, golf fans in Ontario will enjoy an unusually strong field with the US Open at Pebble Beach next week.
We’ll break this one down for you with odds on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as a good field tees it up in the Great White North.
Storylines for Days
There is a lot to unpack with this event. It is the week before the US Open at Pebble Beach, which is storyline numero uno. This is the last tune-up for the field before the next major. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Matt Kuchar headline the list of players looking to stay sharp or smooth out the rough edges before going to California next week.
Of course, it also means that a lot of players are taking the week off to rest or get an early head start out to the left coast. Tiger, Phil, Fowler, DeChambeau, Matsuyama, Day, Spieth, Leishman, Finau, and Woodland are just some of the names not listed in the field this week.
This is only the fourth time that this course has hosted the RBC Canadian Open. We’ll talk more about the course shortly, but that is a big storyline, as we have very little course form data with which to go on.
It has been 65 years since a Canadian player won this event. That was Pat Fletcher in 1954. The Canadian Golf Hall of Famer ended a 40-year drought when he won. Karl Keffer won his second Canadian Open in 2014. This tournament was suspended for four years because of World War I. When it returned in 1919, Hamilton Golf & Country Club hosted for the first time. James Douglas Edgar won. Eleven years alter, Tommy Armour won at HG&CC.
There are 12 Canadians in the field this week.
Hamilton Golf & Country Club
This course opened in 1915 and has hosted this event five times in the past. This is not a standard course for 2019. It is a par 70 under 7,000 yards. Scott Piercy tied the event record score of 263 with his win in 2012. The winning scores the last two years at Glen Abbey Golf Course have been 23-under and 21-under. Even with the low par here, expect this to be a real low score as players can attack these shorter holes very aggressively.
This course was the host site in 2012 and 2006. Jim Furyk, Brian Gay, David Hearn, Ryan Palmer, Jimmy Walker, and Mike Weir are the only players that have played both events. Furyk won in 2006. Piercy, Bud Cauley, Josh Teater, and Scott Stallings are the only top-10 finishers from 2012 that are in the field this week.
JB Holmes, Will Claxton, Brian Harman, Ryan Palmer, and Cameron Tringale were top-20 finishers. None of that should have any bearing this week, as a lot has changed in the seven years since the Canadian Open was in Ancaster, Ontario. Club technology, ball technology, and a lot of the players are dramatically different at this point.
With minimal course form data to go on, we have to look at recent form and the stats. As far as recent form goes, the favorites really stand out, which also means that they stand out statistically. Dustin Johnson has two seconds, a sixth, and a fifth over his last six events. Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship and has a run of four top-25 finishes, with three in the top 10. Matt Kuchar also has four top-10 finishes and a 12th in his last six events. Rory McIlroy has five in his last seven events. Sergio Garcia has been feast or famine with three top-five finishes and two missed cuts in his last five starts.
Shane Lowry has played really well of late with back-to-back top 10s. Sebastian Munoz also has back-to-back top-10 finishes and a 38th after missing four straight cuts. Scott Piercy has four top-20 finishes in his last five starts.
Scouting the Stats
This is a really interesting venue because we have to really look hard at the course and see what types of skills it rewards. Distance off the tee may not matter nearly as much because everybody can get to every hole in two shots, even the par 5s. It may be more about accuracy and making putts this week.
Rory leads all players in strokes gained tee to green, with Johnson fourth, Thomas fifth, and Koepka 10th. Most of the top players in this department aren’t in the field this week. Canadian Corey Conners is and he ranks 16th in SG:OTT. At +8000, he’s worthy of a look, even if the pressure of being a native son is a lot to bear. Others to watch in that category this week are Kuchar (15th, +2000), Simpson (20th; +2000), and Henrik Stenson (24th, +3300). Stenson really looks close and on a short course like this, he’s probably a good buy. He’s also first in SG: Approach.
Speaking of SG: Approach, Sergio Garcia is second and Keegan Bradley is third. Bradley is kind of an interesting play at +6600, even though his recent form has been fairly poor. Bud Cauley has played well around the greens and leads the PGA Tour in SG: Around the Green. Brandt Snedeker is second. He plays well in California, so next week might be the time to take a shot on him, but Sneds does have back-to-back top-20 finishes. He’s +4000 this week. Cauley is +5500. Snedeker is quietly top 15 in SG: Putting as well.
That pretty much narrows it down for me. While I won’t be surprised if a short price wins, I’ll be looking at Conners at +8000, Snedeker at +4000, and Stenson at +3300. The purse and the first place prize are up considerably this year with the timing of this event, so the top prices are likely to take it a lot more seriously, but those are some good price grabs early in the week.